Author Archive | The Fighting Couple

Bali for Couples

As we travel the globe searching for the best couple destinations for you, we have discovered one place you must add to your list, Bali. The delightful island is located on the southern end of Indonesia in the Indian Ocean. Getting there is simple. There are a number of direct flights right into Denpassar, Bali, or as we did, connect via Singapore or Bangkok. Balinese hospitality matches the weather: warm and inviting. English is widely spoken, and getting around is straight forward and affordable. Here are our 7 hints for driving in Bail.  Bali offers you a perfect setting to reconnect with your lover.

Beautiful Bali

Beautiful Bali

Bali Beaches

Where to start? The beach of course! The warm blue waters with their white sandy beaches offer couples an ideal setting to relax or if inclined, engage in snorkeling and other world-class water sports. We elected to make Kuta, on the southern tip of the island as our base. There are so many different options for hotels in Bali.   Of course if your pocketbook can handle it, a resort right on the water is highly recommended.   Here are a few beach ideas. The great thing about Bali, is you can wander and find your own Best Beach!

Bali Beaches!

Bali Beaches!

Kuta beach-Perhaps the most popular on the island. Can be crowded, but undeniably one of the best on the island.

Pemuteran– This dog-bone shaped by offers some of the best snorkeling and diving. The sea life and fauna have no rival.

Balian beach-If surfing is you thing, Balian is you place. With its ruckus waves, it is a grandstand to some of the best surfing on the planet. If riding waves is not your thing, there is no charge to enjoy the show as a spectator.

Ubud-An Artisan Paradise

One of our favorite places in the world is a little town in central Bali, an enclave of craftsmen and shops called Ubud.  Ubud is the craftsman capital of the island. To the north of town is a street line with handicraft artisan shops. You can purchase glass works, ceramics, and some the best woodworking we’ve come crossed. There’re items for every budget. Perhaps the most tempting is the intricate jewelry that the island’s craftsmen create. Each creation is a work of art.

Bali Cuisine

After playing all day in and the sun and sand you would likely have worked up an appetite. It’s time to take in some of the world-class Bali cuisine. The wonderful thing about Bali, is that it’s perched on the crossroads of the Asian Pacific area. There number of Thai and Vietnamese influenced restaurants. Fresh fruit and seafood are almost always on the menu. We highly recommend taking in the street food that is available on almost every corner of the island. We also unexpectedly had some of our best curry there as well.

Hiking

If hiking and exploring are your thing, Bali will not disappoint! There is a long list of trails and hikes for beginners to the more adventurous at heart. Every inch of Bali was made for Instagram. The lush green jungles and rain forests beg to be explored. Don’t forget to pack plenty of water as the islands tropical heat can certainly melt any advanced trekker.   Here are a few ideas for day hikes:

Mount Agung– This mountain is one of the most sacred sites for the Balinese. The trails are a bit rough and on the confusing side, but so worth it. If you have the cash for a guide, it would be a good idea. The views from the top are stunning!

Mount Batur– One of the “newest” attractions in Bali, it was formed by a volcanic eruption in 1917. The sunrise view from the summit is breathtaking. There is a caldera lake called Lake Batur in the crater. This is a great day hike… don’t forget to pack you lunch!

Side trips

The beauty of Bali is that it is centrally located and there are a number of wonderful side trips just a short flight away. One of our favorites is Borneo.

We elected take a short flight to Borneo. While we loved the ocean and culture of Bali… Borneo’s biodiversity is second to none. You can take in the orangutan park or if you’re little more adventurous head deep into the jungles of Borneo. There’re a number of resorts and camps you can go out on. We’ll like to go to the little lake in the center the island called Battang Ai. You have to take a boat across to an island in the middle of the lake. There are a number of different nature hikes and aboriginal village experiences. Our favorite was taking a waterfall adventure. The trek was pretty grueling but the reward was swimming under our own waterfall.  Check out our Borneo for Beginners post for all the details.

Beautiful Batang Ai

Beautiful Batang Ai

We given you a few ideas on how to make Bali your next couple vacation. There is so much to offer traveling couples, and with that the affordable costs it is a great selection for your next couple holiday.

Have you been to Bali? If so we’d love to hear some feedback on what your favorite parts. Just leave a comment below.

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20 Places You Are Saying Wrong

1) Nice, France      WRONG: Nice    RIGHT: Niece.

Trust us, Nice is Nice!

 

2) Phuket, Thailand      WRONG: Fu-ket   RIGHT: Poo-get

Read our post on skipping Phuket and visiting Krabi.

Thailand and Cambodia 2012 -2 097

3) Thames River, UK      WRONG: Th-AIMS    RIGHT: TEMs

Don’t know about you, but I could listen to Benedict Cumberbatch say “Thames,” All…day…long!

 

4) Nevada, USA       WRONG: Nev-AH-duh    RIGHT: Ne-VAD-Duh

Don’t worry too much…Americans on the east side of the USA don’t know how to say it either.

 

5) Copenhagen, Denmark      WRONG: Co-pen-hay-gen    RIGHT: Co-pen-hog-gen

Hey you! There is not no “hay” in Copenhagen!

 

6) Beijing, China       WRONG: Pee-King    RIGHT: Bay-JING

This one harkens back to very poor translation spelling.

 

7) Reykjavik, Iceland       WRONG: Ray-ka-vick    RIGHT: Ray-kia-vick

Ok…we struggle with this one.  Think of the car brand?

 

8) Taipei, Taiwan       WRONG: Tai-PAY    RIGHT: Tai-BAY

Home of one of the tallest buildings in the world, Taipei 101.

Taipei 101.

A view from Taipei 101.

9) Ibizi, Spain       WRONG: eye-BEE-zuh    RIGHT: eye-BEE-thuh

It sounds a little too much like I beat her.

 

10) Moscow, Russia       WRONG: Moss-COW    RIGHT: Moss-CO

No mossy cows in Moscow.

 

11) New Orleans, USA       WRONG: New Or-Leans     RIGHT: New Or-Luns

The faster you say it, the better it sounds.

 

12) Qatar       WRONG: cut-TAR    RIGHT: Kuh-TER.

There is plenty of tar in Qatar, just not in the name of the country.

 

13) Bangkok, Thailand       WRONG: BANG-kock    RIGHT: Bang-Gowk

This is another common mistake we hear.   Anyway you say it, one of the best cities we have visited.

 

14) Budapest, Hungry       WRONG: Budda-PEST    RIGHT: Budda-Pescht

If you are headed there, drop us a line. We know the best goulash place. Mmmmm.

 

15) Iraq       WRONG: Eye-Rack     RIGHT: EYE-Rock

Watch the evening news, and at least half of the local reporters will get it wrong.

 

16) Versailles, France       WRONG: Ver-sillys     RIGHT: VER-Sigh

This is a great drinking game standing in line for tickets to the palace.

The Grand Palace

17) Dubai       WRONG: Do-Buy    RIGHT: Do-BAY

Please do buy the duvet, not the Dubai.

 

18) Newfoundland, Canada       WRONG: New-Found- Land    RIGHT: Nyoo-fn-Land

Ok…we cant say it right either. Here is a Canuck to help us:

 

19) Gstaad, Switzerland       WRONG: Gee-STAD    RIGHT: Sch-TOT

Theres no G in Gstaad.

 

20) Cannes, France       WRONG: CANS    RIGHT: CAN

Saying it right vs. saying it wrong will cost you a good seat at any good Cannes restaurant.

 

How many did you get wrong?  Leave a comment below.

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Travel-the best V day gift!

Tis the season of Love!  Valentines day is just around the corner.  We are all facing the age old question, what to give our loved one?   Why give chocolates or flowers?  Give them the world!  We asked a few of our friends to submit “Selfies of Love.”  Hopefully this will inspire you to invest in your relationship and see the world together.  Even better, we are giving away $50 for the best couple travel selfie!  Below are the best of the best we have received to date.  Think you have a better one?  There is still time to enter!  Read below for all the details on entering.  Happy travels!

Don’t forget to vote for your FAVE “Selfie of Love” below!

 

Volcano in El Salvador

Beth and Ben on a hike up the Santa Ana Volcano in El Salvador. Check out their blog:  www.mytraveltools.com

 

Happy Baha couple!

Happy Baha couple!

 

A room with a view! Paris Opera House

A room with a view! Paris Opera House

 

Kennedy space center

Robbie and Carrie at Kennedy Space Center.

 

Hamlet Depot, Hamlet, North Carolina.

Hamlet Depot, Hamlet, North Carolina.

 

Love at the Louvre with Olly & Jo of @ollyandjo

Love at the Louvre with Olly & Jo of @ollyandjo

 

The couple behind @onlymypassport in Valencia, Spain.

The couple behind @onlymypassport in Valencia, Spain.

 

Charlotte and Cameron at Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park

Charlotte and Cameron at Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park

[poll id=”2″]

Its not too late to enter!!!!   Just zing us a picture and tell us in less than 10 words where it was taken.  Send them to SelfieofLove@gmail.com

 

The fine print (sorry, we don’t look good in stripes):

1) Pictures must be travel themed and feature at least two people.  (No cat pictures allowed.)

2) Void where prohibited.  (Void is such a weird word…..Void.)

3)  All pics must be “tastefully” done.  (Ummm… no weird stuff, ok?)

4) Contest rules are subject to change.  (Unless Luci changes her mind….which NEVER happens.)

5)  Contest ends on February 10, 2016 at midnight MST.  (All good things must come to an end.)

5.5)  18 years old and above only to win.  (This is the most fun adults get to have…no kids allowed!)

6)  The expert judges at 1000 Fights will pick the winner!.  (There are no rules against crossing your fingers.)

7)  Submitting pictures to www.1000Fights.com means we can use them.  (We will use them in our post if you win.  Thats all.  We promise.)

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The Do’s and Dont’s of Darwin

Known as Australia’s only tropical capital city, Darwin welcomes visitors with the best weather, beaches, and activities every adventure seeker would love.   Perched on the very northern coast of Australia, the area doesn’t see the attention of its sister cities Sydney or Melbourne.  This lack of attention is actually a good thing.   It is one of the few places that live up to what you envision the land down under being.

Visiting Darwin was our first visit to Australia, we learned a few lessons from our visit.  We want to pass on a few of the basic do’s and dont’s for the area to ensure a problem-free and enjoyable vacation.   We want you to have the insiders guide when going to the northern territory of Australia.

Do Plan for Adventure 

Darwin offers visitors plenty of activities they can do from daytime to nighttime.   There are two amazing national parks within driving distance of Darwin: Kakadu and Litchfield.  Both are must sees for any visit to the “Top End.”  There are many tours that leave from darwin and take you to on a day trip.   The tour we elected to take gave us passage on a croc viewing cruise and a day swimming in the waterfalls of Kakadu!  There are many multi day camping excursions into the national parks if you wish to get a more involved adventure.   For the history buff, there are many World War II sites in Darwin.  You can take a harbor cruse that highlights the different points of interest.  There is also a WWII museum which has many interesting exhibits just outside of Darwin.

Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park

Once the sun goes down in Darwin, the fun continues!  We highly recommend visiting the Mindil Beach Sunset Market.  It lines the beach with art, food and fun vendors.  We absolutely loved just people watching along the path.  You can also check out the Deckchair Cinema for an outdoor film viewing while resting in a reclining chairs under the stars.

Don’t Overspend on Accommodation 

There will be plenty of things where you can put your money in, and accommodation shouldn’t be one of it. To fully experience the authentic atmosphere of Australia’s Northern Territory, consider signing up for a house sitting instead. According to a popular house sitting platform Trusted House Sitters, many homeowners in the area are in search for a loving home sitters to look over their humble abode including their pets while they are away. You get to stay in their homes for free, while enjoying the rest of your trip in Darwin. It will save you plenty of cash that you commonly spend on hotels or inns. This is highly beneficial for those planning to stay in the destination for a long period of time.

We stayed at the Bromeliad Bed and Breakfast and had a great time.  The innkeepers are so kind and will definitely help you make your visit to Darwin an enjoyable one.

Do travel with insurance

Whether you are traveling to Darwin from another Australian location or internationally, the need to have a travel insurance will be highly helpful to you, especially when going on a trip with your family. A typical policy, based on the information shared by this travel insurance guide, can help you avoid any travel risk, such as:

· Hefty medical costs

· Airline and accommodation cancellation

· Lost, stolen or damaged items

· Legal liability

The same article also showed the ins and outs of making a claim, when the need arises, making it easier for you in case an emergency strikes.

Don’t Visit During the Wet Season

Given the plenty of outdoor activities you can do in the city, the best time to visit Darwin is during the dry season, which lasts from April or May until September or October. It’s the most beautiful weather to get around the city with clear blue skies, warm days and balmy nights. During the wet season, you have to endure storms that sometimes led to cyclones and floods. The temperature is less humid as it gets close to the wet season. The wet season starts around October to November, but rain falls more between January and March. According to resource page Outback Australia Travel Secrets, the wet season may still work for travelers who are more adventurous and flexible as it’s the time when wildflowers are blooming and waterfalls are raging.

Darwin’s geographic location made it a highly popular destination for travelers in search of peace of mind without the need to leave the city life. We hope this post presented you with all the preparation and safety tips you need before going to the capital city of Darwin. Feel free to add more tips to this list, by leaving a comment below.

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Selfie of Love Contest

LouvreLove

 

Do you have the best couple travel picture?

Just in time for the upcoming month of February and Valentines day, we are searching for the best couple travel picture!

What’s in it for you?  You could win a dinner for two at your fave restaurant in the world!  (Basically, if you are selected as our Selfie of Love contest winner, we send you $50.  Not bad huh?)  In addition, the top 10 pictures will be proudly featured on our site!  Where 10 or so people will see them!  We are happy to link back to your site/blog/social media if you wish.

All pictures will be we be judged by a completely biased panel namely yours truly the Fighting Couple.  We are looking for couples that get out and see the world together!  Style points will certainly be added for location, originality, ect!

Just zing us a picture and tell us in less than 10 words where it was taken.  Send them to SelfieofLove@gmail.com

 

The fine print (sorry, we don’t look good in stripes):

1) Pictures must be travel themed and feature at least two people.  (No cat pictures allowed.)

2) Void where prohibited.  (Void is such a weird word…..Void.)

3)  All pics must be “tastefully” done.  (Ummm… no weird stuff, ok?)

4) Contest rules are subject to change.  (Unless Luci changes her mind….which NEVER happens.)

5)  Contest ends on February 10, 2016 at midnight MST.  (All good things must come to an end.)

5.5)  18 years old and above only to win.  (This is the most fun adults get to have…no kids allowed!)

6)  The expert judges at 1000 Fights will pick the winner!.  (There are no rules against crossing your fingers.)

7)  Submitting pictures to www.1000Fights.com means we can use them.  (We will use them in our post if you win.  Thats all.  We promise.)

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Our 7 Questions with Fins to Spurs

What if you could try another career? Even for a short time, would you try a different job just to see what it could be like? We would like to introduce you to a traveling couple that not only tries a new job every few months, but does it in another part of the world! Please meet Christine and Adam of www.finstospurs.com.  We put our seven questions to these two wandering workers:

Blog:  www.Finstospurs.com

twitter:  @finstospurs

Instagram:  @finstospurs

 

First off, tell us a little about yourselves?  How long have you been a traveling couple?  How did you meet?

We have been together for about two years now, most of which has been on the road!  We are from completely different backgrounds, Adam from a rural community in Nebraska, Christine from just outside Seattle, Washington.  We both moved to Kona, Hawaii to work on scuba diving boats and met while working at the same dive shop!  Our passion for adventure and travel drove us together and we quickly teamed up to start our latest tour of the world in August 2014!

Christien West, Adam Maire, Fins to Spurs, Nicaragua

Christine West, Adam Maire of Fins to Spurs in Nicaragua

1)   You two are on such an amazing adventure!  Tell us about one of your best and worst experiences?

He Said: When Christine and I were working as ranch managers in Nicaragua, one of the local ranch hands was incredibly talented, wanted to help in every way, but was very young.  At 16, Ariel was trying to learn as much as possible, but we needed someone who could not only work at the ranch but travel to other parts of the community.  Ariel needed to learn how to drive.  One of my favorite experiences was teaching Ariel how to drive a manual–in my terrible Spanish!  He was hilarious and joking the whole the time (I think?!) and we had a blast together!  The worst experience?  A 12-hour bus ride in the same area with “travelers stomach” in the dark on a bumpy road with a bathroom that had no light and a broken door.

She Said: Just recently Adam and I went to Ubud, Bali and visited a monkey sanctuary.  We are incredibly lucky travelers sometimes, and we just happened to arrive at the sanctuary as a MASSIVE celebration of harmony with nature and animals was beginning!  Hundreds of locals in formal dress were giving offerings, music was playing, the monkeys were excited and seemed to be so interested—it was amazing.  We listened, watched, were so overtaken by the beauty…all because our yoga class was changed and we had extra time that day.  Which brings me to the worst experience of Bali: Adam and I are extremely new to yoga and were trying some different styles of yoga in Ubud…it just seemed like the fun thing to do!  The class that we really wanted to try was cancelled, so we signed up for Partner Acro Yoga.  When we arrived, things were fine for about two minutes and then the next moment I saw people around us getting ready for what looked like a collective wheel-barrel race – one that we were losing!  It was all too much FAST—our hung-over teacher was late, the space was small, every move seemed upside down and WAY beyond our skills in life…We slipped out of class on minute 9 and ended up going to the monkey sanctuary!  Worst experience is never that bad J

 

2) If you had to travel with someone else besides your travel partner, who would it be?  (this person can be living, historical or mythical?.)

He Said: Pretty much anyone who is hilarious!  Maybe Will Ferrell or Ryan Reynolds.  I just want to be able to laugh my though any mildly bad situation.  Will Ferrell is always so obscure that anything could be fun and I can really appreciate Ryan Reynolds sarcasm. If you know any other comedian that is usually pretty positive I am open to suggestions!

She Said: Oh I agree with Adam 100%. Being able to laugh is mandatory for me.  But my vote is more for Ryan!!

Adam from Fins to Spurs

Adam from Fins to Spurs

3)One of our fave posts is about your volcano hike.  Tell us, what it as exhausting as it looked?

He said: Oh my God YES!! I spent 6 years in the Infantry where we hiked EVERYWHERE with overloaded rucks.  I thought I was pretty tough but that hike nearly killed me.  Our guide was 7 feet tall and nearly ran up the mountain!  It is all straight up, very few switchbacks in the beginning and the first third is through loose, soft gravel.  We earned every foot of elevation we gained!

She said: First, the weather was everything! We were told it was going to pour rain all day so we thought we should bring double clothes. It never did rain, by the way.  We carried over 40 lbs. straight up that loose dirt and ash volcano!  I kept adjusting the straps on my backpack but I have so little experience, it was ALL so heavy!  It was insanely awesome, I would do it again, but way less in the pack.

traveling couple Guatemala

Acatenango, Guatemala

4)  If you had to eat one last meal, what/ where would you eat?

He said: I try to eat every meal like it is my last, I usually finish half of Christine’s food too!  I love Indian and Thai food so much but my favorite is Mexican.  When we lived in Guatemala, Christine made these killer smothered burritos that were the size of a small dog, all in our little apartment.  I would have to make that my last meal but I would eat it on any beach with a GREAT sunrise and a Black Butte Porter!

She said: You know, I spent two years teaching in Istanbul, and Turkish food was introduced to me by my students.  I liked it in the beginning, but then over two years I grew to LOVE IT!!! I would have an Istanbul street food feast with pide, doner, yogurt, lahmacun, sutlac and all with raki! Yum!!!

1000Fights:  YUM!

5)  What advice would you have for a couple that is considering following your path and working around the world?

He said: GO and DO IT!! We aren’t trying to sell quit the 9 to 5 or permanently abandon your current job, just take a little more time off, find a job or volunteer opportunity, and travel!!  This life isn’t easy.  We don’t have the stress of normal work but a job is a job.  Whatever the job is you still have co-workers you don’t love and long hours.  We just want everyone to know that you can stay longer in these locations and learn SO much more about them than just a few days here and then moving on to a new location.

She said: I think my advice would be to start slowly.  I started working abroad when I was 19 years old as a bartender in England.  Your first job abroad is rough, then you finish that one and you think, that was SIMPLE AND FANTASTIC, so you do it again.  You take more risks, you challenge yourself with more languages, locations and different types of jobs…it gets more and more adventurous.  As a couple, you will do this together!  Your experiences get more memorable, more life changing, more inspired.  Is you ease into this process with your partner, maybe starting with vacations combined with work/volunteer opportunities, your relationship has a chance to be EVEN CLOSER, with this completely different experience as something only the two of you really know about.

traveling couple

Fins to Spurs at Karon Beach, Thailand

6) If you could solve one problem in the world what would it be?

He said: Our lack of care for nature.  If humans don’t stop using up our resources we are going to wake up one day with no Earth to call home.  The shark finning and destruction of coral reefs is forever changing our oceans for the worse.  We recently hunted one of the species of rhinos into extinction just for its horn and another species only has four left… in the entire world!  Global warming is destroying our poles year after year and spreading FAST!  The human race is going to have to unite to conserve what little bit of nature we have left!

She said: If I could “solve” one thing, it would be living in extremes.  I wish people could live with more balance.  For example, the internet is great, it has the ability to forward education for people who would never otherwise have access. However, people can’t spend ALL DAY online.  Go outside!!  See other people in real life!! Eat, smell, and see other places!  Or food: I absolutely love amazing food, but you can’t eat everything and anything all the time.  The goal in my mind to live a balanced life, integrating more patience into every activity in your day.

 

7)You knew it was coming….What has been your greatest travel fight/disagreement?

She said: Travel is tough sometimes.  Adam is my favorite travel partner in the world.  No question.  However, our rare disagreements do happen.  I remember when we finished 9 months in Central America, our flight flew through Seattle, my hometown that I hadn’t been to in years.  And we only had two hours in Seattle before we flew to Alaska, but in this airport there is an Ivar’s, the BEST restaurant for clam chowder in the world.  I WANTED THIS CHOWDER!  I was dreaming about it for more than a few weeks.  So, when we arrived in Seattle, we bee-lined to Ivar’s.  But when we got there,  Adam wanted all this other stuff like fish and was spending WAY too much money and we had this tense moment over the food (it was stupid)…and because of the fight…I didn’t want my precious chowder anymore.  It was a fight over the bowl of soup…medium or large.  It was an argument over  $2.  It’s hard to understand, but after 9 months of spending, it seemed like too much.  I guess that’s travel for you, you sort of lose it all (your mind) and gain it all at the same time!

He said: In my defense, I wanted the large bowl of soup so she got enough, and I could finish what she didn’t want.  It was really more about 24 hours straight of flights, car rides, and fast food that really put the stress on the situation.  I still feel bad I ruined the soup for her.  We really do get along pretty well, but we both HATE being cold.  On the few occasions we have worked in the cold it has become the blame game and a small spat.  You know, the typical: “working in the snow was YOUR idea!” and “That’s it!! You NEVER get a say in the job choice again!!!”  A warm coffee and a heater and it all just goes back to normal!

Now those two know how to fight! We are very impressed. A huge thanks to our friends Christine and Adam for graciously answering our 7 questions.  Give their blog a follow!

2

The Fighting Couple’s Holiday Gift Guide

The trouble with travelers is they are so hard to shop for!   The Fighting Couple comes to the rescue. We have put together the perfect gift guide for your wandering colleagues. Trust us, a few of these items under the tree will have your traveler beaming like they just avoided a long TSA line!

The Perfect Pillow

Travelers are always dreaming of the lovely locations they have visited. Their homes are filled with pictures of the Colosseum in Rome and selfies at Machu Picchu. Ok… maybe that is just us… Regardless, the first stop you should make on your traveler shopping quest is to Finch and Cotter for a Custom Travel Pillow.   There you will find a great selection of travel themed throw pillows. We get lots of comments on ours! It lists all of our favorite places. We can’t count the number of conversations that have started when our friends looked at the pillow. Each destination is a memory to us. Be a traveling friend’s hero! Simply start your customized pillow by listing at least seven of your favorite destinations.   Finch and Cotter can make custom pillows in a week! How cool is that?  Facebook: Finch & Cotter

Pillow talk

A Little Pillow Talk

The Traveling Pouch

Travel these days takes a bunch of stuff: Passport, ID, itineraries, phones, Visas, boarding passes, ect, We have found the perfect solution. The Leather Travel Wallet from House of LH.   This handsome and useful travel folder keeps all of your travel goodies sorted and organized.   They are the perfect size to handle your cards, papers and even a special pocket for your passport. There is even room for one of Mike’s spreadsheets! This handy item is a must have. They are handmade out of real leather so they are tough enough to hold up any traveler’s demands.  Bon Voyage!

Leather Travel Wallet

Leather Travel Wallet

 

The Tough Bag

One of the most embarrassing situations we have had while traveling was our trek into the Amazon jungle in Peru. We were trekking novices. We showed up at the river bank with our roller bag suit cases. (Don’t do this.) Did they get wet? Yes. Did our clothes smell musty and river-ery? Yes. Were we happy about that after a week in the jungle? No. Since then, we have discovered the Dry Duffel from Lewis N. Clark. This handy bag looks small, but it is huge! There is plenty of room for your entire trip’s wardrobe. The best thing? It’s completely water-resistant. This bag is perfect for trips where weather can be an issue. Headed camping or in our case “glamping”? This bag is going to be your new best friend. While you are on their site, they offer loads of great stocking stuffers. We highly recommend a toiletry pouch. It is one of those TSA friendly bags that every traveler covets. Twitter: @lewisnclarkgear

Dry Gear Duffel

Dry Gear Duffel

 

A Tale of Two Cities

Just because you are traveling does not mean that you have to look scroungy. The challenges for every traveler is what to pack? You want to pack light, but you still want to look good. Actually, you want to look better than good, you want to look fabulous. One of the requirements we have for our clothing is that they serve more than one purpose. We give you the Book Scarf from Storiarts   Not only does this little number make you look smart, you actually are smart! Each scarf displays a passage from a classic novel. Luci picked the Tale of Two Cities, which is her favorite book. Again, this is another perfect conversation starter. These are easy to pack, easy to wash. and can be worn with different outfits. The perfect compliment to your traveling wardrobe.  Twitter:  @storiarts

book scarf

The Classic Book Scarf

The Gnomes

One of the hardest parts of being a couple on the go is the times when you are apart. Yes, we miss fighting with each other.  Both of us travel a lot for our day jobs. Recently our friends at Gnoments asked us to give a Gnoment a try.  Ok… at first we were a little bit skeptical. A talking gnome is a little out of the ordinary. I am sure the TSA agent that went through all of our unmentionables was wondering why in the world we were smuggling gnomes?   So this is how it works. With your smart phone, you create a message, pictures, or even a map for your loved one. Next step, hide your gnome when only your lover will find it (suitcase, briefcase, car, ect). Once they find the little gnome, they scan it with their phone and up pops your message. Cool huh? This is the perfect gift for couples that spend time away from each other.  Twitter: @gnoments

They created a little video on how it all works:

The Perfect Print

The traveler’s home is a museum of their adventures.   We are always looking to surround ourselves with inspiration from our previous adventures.   We recently added a new print to our “palace”: A World Travel Map Print from The Oyster’s Pearl.  The thing we love about this little shop is that it is run by a husband and wife team!  (Wonder if they fight?)  Their work has been featured in: Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters, Southern Living, Country Living, Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine, Buzzfeed & more!  They can do custom prints of just about any state. Isn’t that cool?  What we love most about their store is that everything is custom designed.  We love gifts that are personalized just for us.  Be a winner this season and have something unique made for your loved one.  Twitter: @theoysterspearl

Adventure print

Follow your own adventure!

Aren’t these some amazing ideas? This time of year is a wonderful season for friends and family. A thoughtful gift to your traveling loved one will mean more than you know. A word of warning. Many of these items are handmade and are in short supply. We strongly encourage you to not delay your order. We would love your feedback on any and all the items above!

A number of the items listed above were supplied for us to review. Does this affect our honest review and impressions? Not one bit. Happy Holidays!

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The Blitz: Exploring How WW2 Changed London

There’s a million things to do in London. Most people tick off locations on their top 10 lists like the Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. But you can’t appreciate modern London without realizing how the Blitz changed what you see today.

I wanted to know more about the Blitz, so I contacted my friends at Context Travel. There isn’t a blog post long enough to tell our readers how much I adore Context Travel. We’ve taken walks with Context all over the world and each is small and full of unique information. There’s nothing I loathe more than a hundred people trailing behind an umbrella. But at Context you get a small group, usually less than 6 people, lead by an expert.

My friend and I met Philippa, an Oxford educated expert, outside the Museum of London, a free and often overlooked museum close to St Paul’s Cathedral. Going on Context’s Blitz Tour was one of my top-to-do’s on my recent girls trip to London and I was anxious to meet our guide. I’ve been fascinated by the Blitz and had watched a documentary on Netflix called, “The Blitz: London’s Longest Night” and wanted to walk and talk to an expert to learn more.

Our tour began with us ducking quickly into the Museum of London. Philippa wanted to give us a solid understanding of the risk of fire in London.  This is one of the many things I like about Context Travel; they live up to their name. They provide context to their tours with educated guides who actually know what they are talking about and they usually live in the city where they work. You don’t get shallow tour guides, who are more interested in playing comedians and who can’t answer questions.

We walked quickly through the Museum to the Great Fire of 1666 Exhibit. “Part of what I love to teach children when I go on tours is to teach how to look,” she rattled happily, “It’s a life skill. When you look for layers in buildings it reveals the past.”

The Great Fire began in a bakery when someone forgot to put out the daily fire. Fire was one of the greatest fears, explained Philippa, “Even the word curfew originated from the couvre-feu or to cover your fire.” The city was largely made of wood houses some with thatched roofs that spread the fire like a terminal disease. The result was almost the entire city burned to the ground, including St. Paul’s Cathedral and more than 80 other churches. The Great Fire had a dramatic effect and changed how London looked and worked in the future. Almost 300 years later, the Blitz would have the same history altering effect.

We followed Philippa out of the Museum onto the London Wall where she painted the scene of London 1940. We stood looking at the high rises, condominiums and churches. The area looked differently 75 years ago. It was working warehouse district with a few shops, and almost no tenants.

British citizens hadn’t been targeted by the German Blitzkrieg or lightening war. That changed in September 1940. Just before 5 p.m. on September 7, close to 1000 German bombers flew across England and started bombing London and it continued consequently for months during both the day and night. It wasn’t just London. Other cities like Liverpool, Portsmouth, even the historic city of Bath were bombed.

“This changed the British experience,” Philippa remarked. “The British knew about what the Germans could do in cities like Guernica in the Basque Country which were absolutely destroyed,” she paused. “In preparation, the government ordered a million coffins. Children were being evacuated from the city with a toy and only a few clothes…a million children were sent to the countryside. Some children didn’t see their parents for five to six years. People would go to the Tube Station to sleep.”

We walked further across the London Wall, enjoying the sunshine, but also trying to wrap our heads around the gravity of the London war experience. Over the course of the war, a million houses in London were destroyed. Miraculously, despite the constant bombardment, the death toll never reached the expected seven digits. Although, 20,000 people died in London and another 20,000 died in other areas of England due to the Blitz.

Philippa stopped. “One of the things the bombings did was uncover London’s history.” Looking down from our perch, she pointed out pieces of Roman Wall, unseen prior to the bombings. “Remember, London was the utmost region of the Roman Empire. It was a strategic area. Suddenly through the rubble, you could see these old, ancient walls.”

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Ancient Roman wall preserved in a parking garage minutes away from the London Museum. The Blitz uncovered Roman architecture and is not preserved even in the most unlikely places.

Not only were scattered pieces of wall to the human eye, but also as London began to be rebuilt more pieces were found. We snaked our way down to a parking garage where Philippa enthusiastically showed us another part of wall that was visible wedged between parked cars and motorcycles.

As we walked to our various tour points, I found Philippa both gracious, and easy to talk to. I felt like she was someone I would be friends with. As a life-long Londoner, she was able to give a unique perspective on the diversity of the city, the ever-rising real estate prices, and where to find the best curry.

We darted across a few narrow streets to a quaint park. It was framed between a narrow road and a tall building with some stacked stones throughout the garden. College students were sipping java. It was quiet for London. Philippa lead us to a plaque at the end of the patch of grass.

Context Tour Guide Philippa Owen shows what an incendiary bomb looks like. Thousands of these bombs were dropped first to create a path for German bombers.

Context Tour Guide Philippa shows what an incendiary bomb looks like. Thousands of these bombs were dropped first to create a path for German bombers.

“The Blitz was a deliberate attempt to smash British morale. But it didn’t work. The Government tightly controlled the images of the devastation to show courage, not to show people in pain. Churchill mobilized the English language and sent it into battle,” Philippa said.

Where we were standing once stood St. Mary Aldermanbury Church. It was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 and rebuilt by famous architect Christopher Wren and gutted again in the Blitz. What was left of the church was shipped to the America, to Fulton, Missouri and rebuilt in honor of Winston Churchill. It also happened to be the place where Churchill gave his famous “Iron Curtain” speech.

We ended our tour at the overpowering St. Paul’s Cathedral. Churchill was determined to save the famous and symbolic symbol at all costs. On the night of December 29, on the 114th Blitz, the area around St. Paul’s was the target. As a warehouse district without a lot of people, fires could spread easily without humans living nearby. The Germans dropped incendiary bombs to light their targets. Then another wave of bombers would drop the bombs,” explained Philippa.

Remarkably, St. Paul’s survived, despite bombs falling all around it, including a bomb that dropped right in front of it, but didn’t detonate. “Once it was detonated outside of London, it created a 100 foot crater,” said Philippa.

Shrapnel marks on St. Paul's Cathedral, scars of the Blitz.

Shrapnel marks on St. Paul’s Cathedral, scars of the Blitz.

I started the tour with the knowledge I had read on the Internet and what I saw on a documentary. I ended the tour having walked the Blitz, felt inspired by the resilience of the British population and having learned to recognize Roman remnants throughout the city. I was educated about a topic that my generation can’t relate too, but certainly sees the relics in every corner of London.

The next time you are in London, understand the past so can appreciate the present by taking Context’s Blitz Tour. Context also offers 40 tours from architecture and gastronomic walks, to drawing workshops to history tours including family tours.

This tour was complementary by our friends at Context Travel.

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My new friend Philippa from Context Travel. My tour was like a walk-umentary.

 

 

 

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